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Daniel Noyed

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Also known as viscoelastic foam, memory foam contours in response to heat and pressure. The material provides a supportive, pressure-relieving cradle that makes it ideal for use in pillows.

Memory foam pillows can be solid or shredded, and many of the best pillows today feature cooling techniques to battle the heat retention that was typical of traditional memory foam. Pillows made of this moldable and highly versatile material are widely available in all budgets.

Whether you suffer from neck pain or whether you’re simply looking for a pillow that will support your spine and help you get a better night’s sleep, look no further. We’ve rounded up some of our top picks and compiled a comprehensive guide on how to choose the best memory foam pillow.

The Best Memory Foam Pillows

Product Details

Coop Home Goods Eden

Coop Home Goods Eden
Fill:
Cross-cut gel-infused memory foam and microfiber
Firmness:
Medium Soft
Coop Home Goods Eden
Highlights:

The Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow is a customizable memory foam pillow that keeps cool with shredded, gel-infused memory foam and comes with a 100-night sleep trial.

Who it's best for:
  • Those who sleep hot
  • Stomach, back, and side sleepers
  • People with changing loft preferences

Coop Home Goods specializes in designing customizable pillows to suit a variety of needs. The Eden Pillow is made with a blend of microfiber and shredded memory foam. This shredded fill promotes airflow, and the memory foam has gel infusions designed to draw away body heat for a cooler night’s sleep.

The Eden Pillow has a medium soft feel that is best suited to back sleepers and stomach sleepers, although it comes with an additional half-pound of fill for side sleepers or anyone who prefers a higher loft or firmer feel. A stretchy polyester liner and gusset allow users to adjust the shape according to preferred sleep position. Since it’s made with shredded foam, this is also a highly huggable pillow.

The Eden features a soft outer cover made of a polyester and bamboo viscose rayon blend. This outer cover is removable and machine-washable. Once a year, the inner pillow can also be machine-washed on cold water in the gentle cycle.

The Eden pillow is available in standard, queen, and king sizes. It’s made in the USA, ships free, and comes with a 100-night sleep trial and 5-year warranty. Coop Home Goods also states that the pillow is cruelty-free and hypoallergenic, and holds certifications from CertiPUR-US as well as Greenguard Gold that guarantee it to be low in harmful chemicals.

TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow

TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow
Fill:
TEMPUR memory foam with TEMPUR-Beeze Gel coating
Firmness:
Medium
TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow
Highlights:

The Tempur-CLOUD Dual Breeze pillow provides a plush cradle for the head and staves off heat build-up with cooling gel panels on either side.

Who it's best for:
  • People who appreciate a pillow that’s cool on both sides
  • Side sleepers
  • Fans of close-conforming memory foam

Tempur-Pedic was the first company to use memory foam in its mattresses and continues to be one of the biggest names in the industry. The TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze one-piece memory foam pillow boasts the supreme pressure relief that is the company’s hallmark. However, this pillow takes it up a notch with gel layers on either side of the pillow to keep it cool. A removable and washable 100% cotton knit cover provides a soft and breathable surface.

The pillow has a 6.4-inch loft, which sinks down a little as the memory foam slowly compresses under the head. Due to this high loft and medium feel, the Tempur-Cloud succeeds in providing a comfortable surface for side sleepers. The foam contours to fit the head and neck, maintaining the natural curvature of the spine while reducing pressure on the ears.

The Dual Breeze pillow is available in queen and king sizes. Tempurpedic offers free shipping but does not accept returns. Tempur-Pedic has established a reputation for high-quality memory foam sleep products and the Dual Breeze pillow should perform well for longer than the average memory foam pillow. To top it off, the company backs this pillow with a 5-year warranty.

Casper Foam Pillow

Casper Foam Pillow
Fill:
77% Polyfoam 23% Memory Foam
Firmness:
Medium
Casper Foam Pillow
Highlights:

Three layers of aerated foams in the Casper Memory Foam Pillow provide a supportive and breathable sleep surface at an attractive price-point.

Who it's best for:
  • Those who sleep mostly on their back
  • People who want a one-piece memory foam pillow without the heat build-up
  • Shoppers who want a few months to try it out before committing

The Casper Memory Foam pillow features a sophisticated design made with three layers of polyfoam and memory foam. A denser foam in the middle provides a supportive cradle for the head and neck, while the conforming outer layers add cushioning with a slow response to pressure. This gives the pillow a medium soft feel overall, without compromising on support. Overall, the pillow’s medium soft feel and average loft work best for back sleepers and some side sleepers.

Instead of relying on gel infusions, the Casper Memory Foam Pillow boosts airflow by perforating all three layers of foam and cutting air channels into the outside layers.

The pillow has a breathable jersey knit cover made of a polyester-spandex blend, with a 2-inch gusset. The cover is removable and machine-washable.

Unlike many of its competitors, Casper extends its 100-night sleep trial to its bedding and pillows, not just its mattresses. The pillow ships free to the continental U.S. and to some Canadian provinces. After the sleep trial, the pillow is backed by a 1-year limited warranty. The pillow is available in standard and king sizes.

Nest Easy Breather

Nest Easy Breather
Fill:
Shredded memory foam
Firmness:
Medium
Nest Easy Breather
Highlights:

The Nest Easy Breather Pillow blends shredded memory foam and polyester fiber for a balanced, customizable feel that appeals to all sleeper types.

Who it's best for:
  • Side, back, and stomach sleepers
  • People who suffer from shoulder pain
  • Combination sleepers

The Nest Easy Breather Pillow is a shredded pillow containing 80 percent foam and 20 percent polyester fiber. The amount of fill can be adjusted to suit your needs and the pillow is very scrunchable, making it suitable for all sleep positions.

As a shredded foam pillow, the Easy Breather offers close conforming and pressure relief. The combination of memory foam and microfiber provides a happy medium for combination sleepers who switch between side sleeping and back sleeping. Stomach sleepers who prefer a flatter pillow can take out more of the fill to achieve their desired loft.

The microfiber fill adds some breathability compared with a typical shredded memory foam pillow, and the Tencel-blend cover and shredded insides allow air to circulate and keep the pillow cool. While the cover can be unzipped at one end to adjust the filling, the cover is not washable so be sure to buy a pillowcase.

The Nest Easy Breather Pillow is available in standard, queen, and king sizes, as well as a customized size for side sleepers that is slightly longer than a queen but shorter than a king. Nest Bedding offers free shipping and a 30-night sleep trial during which you can return the pillow for a full refund if you don’t like it.

Layla Kapok Pillow

Layla Kapok Pillow
Fill:
Shredded memory foam and kapok tree fiber blend
Firmness:
Medium Soft
Layla Kapok Pillow
Highlights:

The sleek Layla Pillow is filled with sustainable kapok fibers and shredded memory foam, wrapped in Layla’s signature cooling copper-infused cover.

Who it's best for:
  • Those who prefer a close-conforming pillow
  • Allergy sufferers and those who sleep hot
  • Back, side, and stomach sleepers

The Layla Pillow features a blend of shredded open-cell memory foam and kapok, a natural fiber that is hypoallergenic and lighter than cotton. Together, these two materials form a pillow that is breathable and molds to support your head and neck. This moldability also makes it popular with people who like to hug their pillow or use it between their knees.

With its medium soft feel and high loft, the Layla Pillow is well-adapted to side sleepers who prefer a softer surface. The pillow also has a zipper at one end so you can adjust the filling to a more comfortable height for back or stomach sleeping.

Just like its signature mattress, the Layla pillow has a copper-infused cover designed to transfer heat away from the sleeper. Copper also has antimicrobial properties to keep your pillow fresh and clean, and it has been said to improve circulation.

The Layla Pillow is available in queen and king sizes. The pillow is made in the U.S. and the kapok is sustainably harvested in Indonesia. Layla offers a 120-night sleep trial with a 2-week break-in period. The pillow ships free to the continental U.S., with an extra fee for orders in Hawaii, Alaska, and Canada. Once the sleep trial ends, Layla stands by the pillow with a 5-year warranty on workmanship and materials.

Bear Pillow

Bear Pillow
Fill:
Single, aerated piece of ‘Loft-X’ polyfoam
Firmness:
Medium
Bear Pillow
Highlights:

Bear’s cool-to-the-touch pillow uses a unique foam that contours like memory foam but bounces back like latex.

Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers
  • Allergy sufferers
  • Those who need advanced cooling technology

The Bear Pillow is a one-piece foam pillow with a cool-to-the-touch cover and mesh panels at each end to allow heat to escape. Although it’s made with a single block of foam, the foam is perforated and the pillow succeeds in maintaining good temperature neutrality.

Bear’s “Loft-X” foam resembles memory foam in the way it conforms closely to relieve pressure points. However, it also has a latex-like resilience that makes it easier to change positions and helps the pillow keep its shape over time.

The medium feel and 5.5-inch loft lend themselves best to side sleepers, in whom it promotes proper alignment of the head and neck. That said, back sleepers should have no problem sleeping on this pillow either, as it does allow some sink.

Allergy sufferers will be glad to hear that the pillow is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, and sports a removable and machine-washable cover. The pillow is available in queen and king sizes. Bear offers free shipping in the contiguous U.S. and charges a small fee for orders to Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada. The pillow has a 100-night sleep trial with a 30-night mandatory break-in period. After that, it’s backed by a 2-year limited warranty.

How to Choose a Memory Foam Pillow

Memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam that’s been treated with chemicals to give it special properties. It’s also known as viscoelastic foam, a moniker that accurately describes the way the material softens and contours in response to heat and pressure, gradually regaining its shape once heat and pressure are lifted.

Memory foam is popular in pillows because it molds to the head and neck, providing a supportive surface that can be shaped to the user’s liking. This close-conforming material is unrivaled in its ability to alleviate pressure points.

In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the pros and cons of memory foam and cover some of the most important aspects to look for when purchasing a memory foam pillow.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Memory Foam Pillow

The market is flooded with manufacturers who tinker with their memory foam to give it different qualities, such as using gel infusions to achieve better temperature neutrality. Some proprietary foams do succeed in their aims, but it can be very difficult to tell before trying the pillow out for yourself.

Before you shop for a memory foam pillow, it’s important to understand the basics behind how they are constructed and what kind of options exist. Focusing on the following factors can help you see past the marketing hype to choose the best memory foam pillow for you.

Memory foam pillows come in two types: one-piece and shredded.

  • One-Piece: One-piece memory foam pillows are made of a single solid block of memory foam. This can either be in the shape of a traditional pillow, or in a tailored shape that mimics the curves of the head and neck. One-piece memory foam pillows conform very closely and have a slower response to pressure. They tend to go back to their original shape when you take your head off the pillow.
  • Shredded: Shredded memory foam pillows can either contain 100 percent memory foam or be blended with other materials such as latex or fiberfill. The advantage of using shredded memory foam is that users can add or remove filling to adjust the pillow loft to their liking, as well as customize the shape of the pillow to a certain extent. Shredded memory foam generally allows more room for airflow compared to a one-piece memory foam pillow.

Here are some other factors to consider when buying your pillow:

  • Sleeping Position: Your sleeping position is one of the main things that will dictate what type of pillow you should choose. One-piece memory foam pillows tend to be higher and better-suited to side sleepers, while stomach sleepers often prefer shredded memory foam pillows with most of the loft taken out.
  • Price: Memory foam pillows have an average price-point, with shredded memory foam pillows running at a slightly higher price-point than one-piece pillows. Some companies offer free pillows along with a mattress purchase, which can be a good option if the pillow matches your needs.
  • Pressure Relief: Memory foam offers exceptional pressure relief, and both one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows conform closely to prevent pressure build-up in the head and neck. Because of its conforming abilities, memory foam is often used in specialized orthopedic pillows to help people with neck pain or other problems.
  • Quality Materials: Memory foam eventually loses its ability to bounce back to its original shape, which in turn affects its pressure-relieving capabilities. A pillow with higher-quality foam will last longer than an inferior one – a difference that is often reflected in the price.
  • Firmness Level: The ideal firmness level for your pillow depends on your sleep position, body type, and personal preference. Most memory foam pillows are medium soft to medium. One-piece memory foam pillows offer just one firmness level, but many shredded memory foam pillows allow users to customize the firmness level somewhat by adding or removing the filling.
  • Loft: A pillow with the right loft, or height, will help keep your head and back aligned and prevent neck pain. One-piece memory foam pillows usually have a medium to high loft, while shredded memory foam pillows can have the loft adjusted to virtually any height. While not as customizable as shredded memory foam pillows, some solid-foam pillows have removable inserts for users to choose between two or more settings.
  • Cooling Properties: Heat build-up in your pillow can make you uncomfortably warm and disrupt your sleep. Memory foam is notorious for heat retention, although today’s manufacturers use many techniques to get around this. Of course, shredded memory foam naturally allows more room for airflow, so all other things being equal, a shredded pillow will sleep cooler than a one-piece pillow.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Memory Foam Pillow?

Memory foam has unsurpassed contouring abilities that make it one of the best pillow materials for pressure relief and support. However, memory foam has some drawbacks as well, the most notable of which is its tendency to trap heat. The material also has a slow response to pressure that some people like, but that can be restrictive when changing positions.

Pros Cons
  • Close-conforming pressure relief: Memory foam softens in response to heat and pressure, molding itself to fit the shape of your body and prevent pressure build-up.
  • Support: Because memory foam remains fairly firm in the areas that are not immediately adjacent to the head and neck, the material forms a supportive cradle that promotes healthy spinal alignment and reduces neck pain and headaches.
  • Price: While not the cheapest pillows out there, memory foam pillows offer a luxurious feel at a much lower price than natural or organic products.
  • Noise: Memory foam absorbs movement and produces little to no noise, minimizing sleep disruptions to you and your partner.
  • Customizability: The viscous nature of memory foam means manufacturers can mold it into virtually any shape, which is why it’s commonly used in orthopedic pillows.
  • Availability: Memory foam pillows are a popular product that you’re sure to find virtually anywhere pillows are sold.
  • Hypoallergenic: Memory foam mattresses are generally resistant to dust mites and bacteria, making them a good choice for allergy sufferers as long as you’re not allergic to the foam itself.
  • Sleeps hot: Memory foam is notorious for trapping heat, leading many sleepers to find it uncomfortably warm.
  • Slow response to pressure: Memory foam is not very responsive, which may lead some people to feel “stuck” when trying to shift sleeping positions.
  • Durability: Memory foam pillows usually last three years at most, since the material eventually loses its ability to regain its shape.
  • Off-gassing: Like all synthetic foams, memory foam releases some initial “off-gassing” odors when it is first unpacked.

One-Piece vs. Shredded Memory Foam Pillows

Here are some of the major ways in which one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows differ:

  • Customization: Both one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows can be customized to a certain extent. Shredded memory foam pillows frequently have a zipper that allows users to open the pillow and add or remove filling to adjust the loft. It’s a good idea to hang on to the filling in case you ever want to make the pillow higher. Although not customizable to the same extent as shredded memory foam pillows, one-piece pillows sometimes have removable inserts that give users several choices of loft.
  • Moldability: Shredded memory foam pillows have a significant advantage over one-piece pillows in that they can be molded to virtually any shape. This is highly convenient for people who like to use their pillow in different positions.
  • Weight: Memory foam pillows weigh more than fiberfill or down equivalents, with many weighing 5 pounds or more. By design, shredded memory foam weighs less than the equivalent volume in solid foam.
  • Heat Retention: Shredded memory foam pillows generally maintain a more neutral temperature, since the design leaves room for airflow between the pieces. That said, some one-piece memory foam pillows feature ventilation or cut-out channels that allow air to flow freely and carry heat away.
  • Fluffing: One-piece memory foam pillows are low-maintenance and don’t need to be fluffed. Shredded memory foam pillows can become lumpy if not regularly fluffed, but the advantage of shredded pillows is that many of them can be machine-washed.
  • Support: One-piece memory foam pillows are usually firmer and keep their shape better than shredded memory foam pillows, which may need to be readjusted every time you switch positions.

Who is Best Suited to a Memory Foam Pillow?

Memory foam pillows are generally best suited to side sleepers, back sleepers, and anyone who suffers from neck pain or who prefers a pillow with a higher loft. While your perfect pillow will partly depend on your body type and personal preference, here are some general considerations for choosing a memory foam pillow according to sleep position and other factors.

  • Sleepers with Neck Pain: Many sleepers successfully reduce neck pain with a cervical memory foam pillow. Thanks to the moldability of memory foam, these pillows are able to cradle the natural curves of the neck and head to provide the needed support.
  • Side Sleepers: Side sleepers need a higher, firmer pillow that supports the head and eases pressure on the shoulders. Memory foam pillows fit the bill, especially firmer one-piece memory foam pillows, and can often be further customized according to individual preferences.
  • Back Sleepers: Back sleepers do best with a moderately lofty pillow that keeps the spine at a natural angle. The ability of memory foam to compress in response to pressure makes it a perfect candidate for many back sleepers, as it allows the sleeper’s head to sink in just far enough to be at a comfortable height with respect to the body.
  • Sleepers Who Enjoy High Loft: Most memory foam pillows are quite high, and shredded memory foam pillows can be stuffed to the brim to make them even higher. This makes them ideal for people who like a pillow with a high loft.

Who is not suited:

  • Hot Sleepers: Memory foam is known for trapping heat, so it’s not the best choice for those who naturally run warm or who live in hot climates. If you sleep hot but you like the feel of memory foam, there is the option of using a shredded memory foam pillow or a one-piece pillow with ventilation or cut-out air channels. These techniques help improve airflow and reduce heat retention. Some pillows have cooling elements and draw heat away from the sleeper using gel, graphite, or copper infusions, or keep a cool-to-the-touch surface with phase-change material.
  • Stomach Sleepers: Stomach sleepers usually require a flatter pillow to keep the neck aligned with the spine, so although some shredded memory foam pillows are suitable, this isn’t generally the best material. That said, stomach sleepers use their pillows in different ways, so the ideal loft will change from person to person. Some stomach sleepers may be satisfied with the adjustability of a shredded memory foam pillow that allows them to form a pillow with a lower loft.

Which Memory Foam Pillow Sizes Are Available?

Memory foam pillows typically come in the following sizes, although the exact dimensions may vary by manufacturer:

  • Standard (20” x 26”): Standard pillows are the smallest and most commonly used size, and can be used on any size bed.
  • Super Standard (20” x 28”): Super standard pillows are relatively rare. With a length halfway between the size of a standard and a queen pillow, they may be suitable for any mattress up to a queen.
  • Queen (20” x 30”): Queen size pillows are commonly available as an alternative to standard pillows. They give a little more playing room to people who move around during the night, or who like to sleep with their pillow folded or scrunched up.
  • King (20” x 36”): In addition to providing plenty of room while sleeping, king pillows are also one of the most comfortable sizes to lean against while sitting up in bed. Most online bedding companies offer king size pillows.
  • Body Pillow (54” x 20” OR 48” x 20”): Body pillows are long and skinny, meant to be cuddled against. These are most frequently used by side sleepers, who tuck them between the legs to keep the hips aligned and reduce strain on the lumbar area. Body pillows may also be an invaluable sleep tool for pregnant women, and can be a comfortable backrest when sitting.

Frequently Asked Questions About Memory Foam Pillows

How much do memory foam pillows cost?

Decent memory foam pillows usually start around $50 and can go up to $150 or more. Prices vary depending on size, foam density and quality, cooling features, and other features such as special shapes or high-quality covers. Compared with other types of pillows, memory foam pillows are similar to latex pillows, cheaper than buckwheat or down pillows, and more expensive than polyester or down alternative pillows.

How do I clean a memory foam pillow?

Some shredded memory foam pillows can be machine-washed, but most one-piece pillows are spot-clean only. It’s important to note that memory foam can get moldy if not allowed to dry properly, so go easy on the spot-cleaning and try not to get the pillow too wet. Many memory foam pillows have removable covers that can be machine-washed.

Where can I buy a memory foam pillow?

Memory foam pillows are commonly available online as well as in many brick-and-mortar stores.

How long do memory foam pillows last?

The average lifespan of a memory foam pillow is 2-3 years, which is longer than down alternative pillows but not as long as down, latex, or buckwheat pillows.

Even the best memory foam pillows eventually lose their integrity. One-piece pillows start to develop permanent indentations, and shredded memory foam pillows become lumpy. While higher-density memory foam tends to be more durable than lower-density memory foam, the downside is that higher-density memory foam also traps more heat.

Regular cleaning and fluffing can help prolong the longevity of a shredded memory foam pillow. Since one-piece pillows are prone to developing mildew when wet, the best you can do is keep them as clean as possible and wash the pillowcase regularly.

Are memory foam pillows adjustable?

Most shredded memory foam pillows offer users the opportunity to adjust the loft by adding or removing filler, and some one-piece pillows have removable inserts. Shredded memory foam pillows can also be scrunched into different shapes if the shape of the cover allows. Many pillows come with gussets meant to help keep the contents in place.

Do memory foam pillows off-gas?

Yes, memory foam is a synthetic material that will release some off-gassing odors. These are the result of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being released into the air. While they are considered harmless, people who are sensitive to smell may find off-gassing odors bothersome, especially with the material so close to their face. If this sounds like you, try to look for a pillow that’s certified by a third-party organization for low emissions, and let the pillow air out in a well-ventilated space for a few days or even a few weeks before using it.